E.coli Bacteria Found in Bagged Salads-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
There are a couple of stories about this.
One warning says that a documentary on Dateline TV showed that E.coli bacteria were found in pre-packaged bags of salad and that the Dole company has issued a recall on some bags.
The other from September of 2006 says the Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert that a strain of E.coli bacterium has been found in several U.S. states and that pre-packaged bags of spinach are suspect.
Both warnings are true.
On September 18, 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded its warning about spinach, telling consumers not to eat any raw spinach, not just pre-packaged spinach as had initially been announced.
The FDA also announced that it’s probe into the sources of spinach contaminated with a strain of E.coli bacterium had been expanded to other companies.
On September 15, 2006, the FDA had announced that Natural Selection Foods of San Juan Bautista, California was recalling all of its products that contain spinach that have “best if used by” dates of August 17, 2006 through October 1, 2006
The FDA is continuing to investigate whether any other brands are involved.
According to an FDA release, “Natural Selection Foods, LLC brands include: Natural Selection Foods, Pride of San Juan, Earthbound Farm, Bellissima, Dole, Rave Spinach, Emeril, Sysco, O Organic, Fresh Point, River Ranch, Superior, Nature’s Basket, Pro-Mark, Compliments, Trader Joe’s, Ready Pac, Jansal Valley, Cheney Brothers, Coastline, D’Arrigo Brothers, Green Harvest, Mann, Mills Family Farm, Pro*Act, Premium Fresh, Snoboy, The Farmer’s Market, Tanimura & Antle, President’s Choice, Cross Valley, and Riverside Farms. These products include spinach and any salad with spinach in a blend, both retail and food service products. Products that do not contain spinach are not part of this recall.”
The FDA said that 109 cases of illness had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control including one death and 14 cases of what is called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure.
States included in the warning include: California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The FDA said the affected products were also distributed to Canada and Mexico.
The other story was focused on Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Dateline show aired in April, 2006. When more than 10 cases of sick people with similar symptoms showed up within three days in September, 2005, a public health investigation was launched. The Minnesota Department of Public Health speculated that the sicknesses were food-related. One of the investigators suspected E.coli because of the symptoms of abdominal cramps and severe, bloody diarrhea. The problem was that E.coli poisoning was more commonly associated with eating contaminated and improperly cooked meat. One of the foods that most of the sick people had eaten was salads made from bagged lettuce. When a public health warning was issued about the salads, one of the victims called investigators from his hospital room and said he still had a partially-eaten bag in his refrigerator. That lettuce was tested and became the first evidence that the E.coli had come from the pre-packaged salads. The odd thing was that the bacterium was found in the lettuce, not just on it.
As a result of that 2005 outbreak, the Dole company issued a voluntary recall for the “American Blend” and “Classic Romaine” packaged salads. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also issued a nationwide health alert in October, 2005, about the particular Dole salads implicated in the outbreak.
According to Dateline, 26 people from three states got ill, some of them seriously. There were no known deaths and there have not been any repeats of the problem.